The International Forum for Democratic Studies
at the National Endowment for Democracy
cordially invites you to a presentation entitled
“Ethiopia’s Democratic Transition:
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”
Merera Gudina Jefi
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
with comments by
National Endowment for Democracy
International Forum for Democratic Studies
Thursday, July 10, 2014
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Livestream of the event will be available here.
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In 1991, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed power following a bloody civil war that toppled the country’s military regime. The EPRDF promised to usher in an era of multi-party democracy and ethnic equality, and to put an end to the command economy. Yet despite the introduction of a new constitution in 1995, the EPRDF has suppressed meaningful democratic change during its two decades in power by institutionalizing a de facto one-party state. The resulting gap between popular expectations and Ethiopia’s political reality has increased frustrations among citizens, and ongoing violence, such as recent clashes on university campuses, indicates the depth of unresolved tensions. In his presentation, Merera Gudina Jefi will evaluate the EPRDF regime’s performance by outlining the contours of the country’s political development and identifying major democratic setbacks. He will offer recommendations for domestic actors, including the Ethiopian government and opposition parties, and for the international community, including the diaspora. His presentation will be followed by comments by Eric Robinson.
Merera Gudina Jefi is associate professor of political science and international relations at Addis Ababa University, where he previously served as chair of the department of political science and member of the academic commission of the College of Social Sciences. He is a former member of the Ethiopian Parliament (2005–2010) and is currently leading two opposition groups, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK). He is the author of two books on political developments in Ethiopia—Ethiopia: From Autocracy to ‘Revolutionary Democracy’: 1960s–2011 (2011) and Ethiopia: Competing Ethnic Nationalisms and the Quest for Democracy: 1960–2000 (2003)—as well as several articles in academic journals, including the African Journal of Political Science, the Journal of East African Studies, and the Horn of Africa Journal. He has been interviewed on CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera for his perspectives on political trends in Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Jefi is exploring opposition politics, political polarization, and the role of the Ethiopian diaspora in facilitating democratization in Ethiopia. Eric Robinson is senior program officer for Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.